Dancing in diversity

I’ve figured out the answer to world peace!!

On Friday night I was invited out to an all women’s ‘disco’. It’s actually called the ‘shit lesbian disco’… which comes apparently from the fact a lot of the those types of events historically have ….. well… been a bit shit!

This one certainly wasn’t.

800 women filled this alternative music bar and it was magical. From the second the friendly organiser ticked our name off her list and we were offered a free shot from a woman with the happiest smile that was impossible not to respond to enthusiastically.

Making my way to the cloak room the line of women did not sit silently. We chatted easily and the woman who took my jacket sat on the floor cross legged as she labelled it for my collection later.

The staff running the bar were oozing energy. There was no frustrations at queuing just an opportunity to dance gently whilst waiting to be served.

And so to the music. Three women. Two laptops.  One music deck  (no idea if that’s the correct description!). Two of the women alternately chose a track and every time just got it so right as the crowd responded whooping as they danced. Later the tracks stopped and made way to the most amazing wordsmith who’s narrative was mesmerising and it was impossible not to listen to every letter within every word. The band then took their place debuting their new EP filling the room with rap, drums and guitars that compelled the crowd to stay and move their bodies in appreciation. The music then returned and everyone just continued. To dance.

This room was brimming with culture, diversity and more importantly love and acceptance. From the sari wearing DJ to the traditional dress of the wordsmith, to the women in heels and those in trainers. Women with make up and those without. Women in dresses and women in jeans. Black women. Muslim women. White women. Chinese women. Women with red hair and those with pink. Women holding hands and women just there for the music.

And that’s world peace in one room.

Music. Love. Acceptance. Dance.

Simple.

Happy Sunday everyone x

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Scared to death

Not my usual blog because this week I’m angry.

I try I try I try to be positive but bloody hell this week has been a test. 49 people dead in a club over in the States and of course Jo Cox – murdered for having an opinion.

Sensitive to me  because I’m gay and I’m also a woman. Did you know I almost entirely stopped using Twitter.  Do you know why? Because I’m scared of the repercussions of my strong views about violence against women. Women like me on Twitter are threatened with rape and murder. For having an opinion.  Some women like Jo are murdered. In fact 1 woman every 3 days in this country is murdered by someone she knows.

That’s what I’m angry about. Yes angry. This isn’t a one off. This isn’t just because someone has a mental health issue or just because he read the dire Daily Mail.  This isn’t just because our politicians breed hatred.  It’s because of ALL of that and much more.

I’m a feminist.  A dirty word.  All it actually  means is I want equality. That’s it. I don’t hate men. I love men. In my top three people in the world two of them are men.  For being a feminist i’m regarded as a nuisance or bothersome because… well I’d really  like women to stop being raped, assaulted and murdered for one.

And being gay on top of that. Well. What’s that like? I can’t go out without a man making a joke about a threesome. We let go holding hands almost automatically when someone walks towards us because we’re not sure if we’ll be abused. I’ve spent my whole life since coming out terrified my children will get a hard time and feel lucky because they haven’t . I’m told to my face that lesbians can be nasty bitches but gay men are funny. I’m also told in what I think is supposed to be positive that gay people are ok.. as long as they don’t kiss in public. In fact just last night I was surprised to hear someone I know upsetting a friend through their homophobic comments. This is the tip of the iceberg.

It’s still the best decision I ever made coming out but it’d be a lie to say it’s easy.

The reason I’m saying this is I’m part of a group of people this week  that were murdered for loving someone, for having an opinion, for speaking up. That makes me angry.

People are different.  That should be embraced not eradicated.

Jo Cox,  I am not just going to remember you today or tomorrow.  You have inspired me to have an even greater voice. You’ve inspired me to be even more passionate. You’ve inspired me to work even harder against that hate that killed you. I am not ever going to stand and watch or turn a blind eye or be scared to have an opinion.

Stand up for yourself.  Stand up for others.

Help, heal and hope. Not hate.

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X x X

Life is too short.

Life is too short.

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said it? How many times have you thought about what it really means when you say it? Probably like me, you say it but you don’t actually really think it means much to you, you say it to others because it’s a flippant way of saying, love your life, live your life, look at your life, enjoy it while you’re here, while you can. You don’t say it or think that it really can be ever so short,

The other day I was thinking of Tes and I have this horrible awful thing sometimes. Envy. Of how long people live. When Tes died someone told me that when they’d lost someone at a young age they began reading obituaries and became jealous of people who died at a ‘normal’ age, thinking how ‘lucky’ they were, I was quite shocked at the time. Now I know what they felt. I was thinking how Tes was supposed to be on this planet for at least another 60 years. 60 years! 60 years of a life cut short. I was totally overwhelmed at the sadness, of what she could have achieved.

Yet I smiled at what she did achieve in her short life and at the fullness of it. She thrived on being herself, of opening herself up to criticism, of standing her ground, she took an interest in politics and she would cry at unfairness. She would read and re read thousand of books, she would write and enter competitions with her stories. She would put herself forward as a book reviewer, she stretched herself in subjects that she wasnt ‘top of the class’ at like drama. She would stick up for anyone having a hard time and seek out new people at the school or those on their own, wanting to show a friendly smile. She loved the diversity of life and people. Those attributes, some adults never reach.

Weird really how we know life could be short and really even a hundred years is a small amount of time – but we still don’t seem to give it our best shot, not always. There are still people fighting with each other over the tiniest of things, still people holding on to grudges, still people who have dreams that they will not try to fulfil, people who love someone they’ll never tell and people who stay put, unable to leave. We still fret about crumbs and dust and who has what. And that’s because we’re human, I know.

I am also that person sometimes – but I’ve spent a long time in my short life particularly the last 15 years trying to change something into a positive. I spent a long time for the first half of my life being negative, feeling sorry for myself, I’d had a hard time so I felt I could feel sorry for myself, I could blame someone else. I was anxious, I had panic attacks for years, I didn’t have the confidence to be who I knew I was, I failed at school and didn’t try to fulfil my dreams.

Then, I read a book one day that changed my life. I was in Australia and I picked up ‘Feel the fear and do it it anyway’. I was 22 and I’d spent a lifetime worrying, up to that point. It took a few more years to put the book fully into practice, to learn to talk to myself nicely, to believe in what I could do, to go back to school and eventually university, to believe I could get a ‘good job’, to be who I am, to fight and be passionate about my beliefs while also opening up my mind to other peoples beliefs. It took a while to stop being anxious, to stop blaming someone else. It took a while to realise I was in control of my future and I could do anything I want. It took longer to accept myself and be me. By the time I had Tes I was getting there and I like to think a bit of me rubbed off on her, on both of my children,

Losing Tes has been the biggest challenge of my life. My mantra of ‘seeing the positive’ in everything has been tested to the max. I’m not there yet but I keep trying. There are always going to be those challenges in life and I will continue to be reminded that life indeed can be short and search out the courage every day to try and live each day to be the best one it can be.

Some days are easier than others, but really, life is too short.

Xx Dwysan Xx

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After

I used to have this saying, BC, before children. For example I’d say I used to have parties in Huw Chics house in Corwen with my friend (we’ll call her S) and we would play all the tracks by Queen while drinking beer. Some of the boys would come back and one or two would usually have a fight and we would put frozen peas on their swollen eye. We would pass the postman on the way home in the morning.

BC we’d go to the club in Corwen currently known as the DiY shop. We’d fake ID to get in and forget what year we were supposed to be born when they checked and subsequently be thrown out.

BC I travelled for 12 months to Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand. Visiting Bondi, Sydney, Auckland and Bali. Kayaking, visiting glaziers, getting to work by driving over the Sydney bridge and spending weekends on Manly beach.

BC I left school and wasn’t fussed about education. I got a job, I paid my mum keep, I went out late and I ate curry for breakfast when I stayed in Manchester with friends who HAD gone to Uni. no care in the world really.

That was BC. Before children.

Got me thinking, that statement. Before and after. Now I’ve started thinking, before and after Tes. Before she died I mean. Things are different before and after Tes. I hear music and think this was before Tes. A film, this was before Tes. Before and after. As times goes on, after Tes becomes more prominent.

After Tes. I get sad sometimes making breakfast on a Sunday, not every Sunday but like today, it hits you. Making breakfast for one. It was one of my favourite things, taking her breakfast in bed on a lazy Sunday morning.

After Tes. The walk I’ve done for years becomes different, sadder, not as light. I have to walk past where we lay your blue casket, the blue of the Dr Who tardis, exact. It can’t be her I think as I walk past. My brain shouts, it can’t be her. But it is. And I’m silent as I peek slyly over the grey wall, and I keep on walking.

After Tes. Sitting down for a family dinner. She isn’t there. Still. So where is she you think. When is she coming back? Where is she? When is she coming home? The one thing that stops me saying this out loud is Jean from Eastenders. Because I think people will see me as Jean from Eastenders. Next I’ll be making sausage surprise. So I don’t shout.

After Tes. Seeing her friends. Once you spent time with her friends, laughed with them, told them to stop talking so loud because it’s 4am. Gave them lifts to sleep overs, tried to find common ground and desperately tried not to appear an idiot or ‘un cool’. . Now I meet them and more recently have seen friends watch over where she lays, searching for words. An image that shouldn’t be. An image that makes you face reality. An image you wish wasn’t happening for the friend and you so wish wasn’t true for your daughter. There’s also an element of hope, of having the ability to create a stronger relationship through loss with those close to her.

After Tes. Watching TV. A random one. Like X factor. Each week. I’m quietly weeping, I would be anyway at the silly stories. But – that you know, she’d be here, entertaining my poor choice of tv watching. We’d be critiquing. We’d laugh and we’d cry together at the crazy sob stories. Girls appear singing with wavy hair and thick set glasses and I cry because she’s like you.

After Tes. Your room. Once a place of mess, of fun, of you. Now quiet and still. And quiet. That quote on your wall. The one that says you should make the best of life ‘because you’re a long time dead’. Written in your own handwriting. I shiver at it but then remember that’s how you lived. Thankfully. Packing the life you wanted in. With enough determination to do it. Brilliant.

So maybe that’s it now, there was the saying I had, ‘BC – before children’ and now there’s a new saying – ‘after Tes’.

I don’t much like the after Tes.

I wish there wasn’t an after Tes.

I wish there was Tes.

But I prefer an after Tes to no Tes at all.

Xx

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Life & Death

You know when your friends have babies and they never tell you what it’s like to have babies, it’s the same thing. You know when your friends have babies and they don’t tell you about the aches in your ribs, they don’t tell you about the heartburn which makes you consume Gaviscon and Settlers like they’re a free drug. Nobody tells you of the nausea at the coffee bean you once loved and the fact you can’t even look at a cup of tea. Nobody tells you that you’ll drive miles for gravy granules and when you find the shop has shut you start hanging around various aunts houses in the hope they too keep gravy granules. Nobody tells you, you won’t sleep until you’ve had that gravy and new potatoes. Nobody tells you the smell of pork will turn your stomach or that really, anything will turn your stomach for 18 weeks. Nobody tells you that you will be literally terrified every day because you’ll be scared something goes wrong. Nobody tells you about kick charts, about immunisations, about grumpy midwives or visits to the labour wards. Nobody really discusses their birth plan or pain relief and NOBODY tells you about the actual pain!

After that, nobody warns you that the sleep deprivation continues for years and the worry continues a lifetime.

Why?

Nobody wants to put you off. Because the list above and the other million difficulties that come with being a parent is worth it and it’s so so hard to explain why – except it is, for me, and I think most – just love, makes it worth it.

My mum told me last night that when I was born she knew what I was thinking and she would look at me and know when I was going to wake up. She told me how her engagement ring went missing when I was a toddler and she asked me to find it, at 18 months old I walked to a tiny bit of grass in the garden and pointed to where I had buried it a few hours earlier. It was a lovely warm cwtch of a feeling to know you are loved and known like that. And it reminded me of how impossible it is to express the feelings of parenthood, of the love, of the hardwork, of the eternal change to your life, of the sacrifices you will forever make, of the corners you will fight, you can’t explain it.

And on the other side of birth there is the inevitable death.

Yesterday I sat at Alder Hey hospital and I felt such immense sadness at babies and young children and older children sitting there. My heart broke looking at the brave look on their parents faces and then I remembered that I had suffered, I guess, the worst of the worst, the actual loss of a child and it got me thinking, like birth – dying isn’t discussed openly either.

Again, nobody prepares you. Nobody can. What to say? You get a leaflet afterwards, ‘what to do after the death of a loved one’ and you read it and you see the words inquest, coroner, funeral director and autopsy and you think you wouldn’t accept it or that you would throw it away in the bin. But you don’t. Like a birth it happens and you have to get on and that’s the weirdest thing. Nobody can prepare you, just the same as birth. Not about waking up at 4am to write her funeral. Not about what colour coffin to choose or songs to sing. Not about how you return to work in a few weeks. Not about how work is impossible 4 months later. Not about how you will still manage to dance and smile sometimes. Not about the guilt you feel because you can.

It struck me the most important events in life are a kind of ‘secret’ we all keep. Even I’m keeping some because who really wants to know the dark, awful stuff about death and who can tell anyone else about their experience. You can’t. Because it is so personal, so unique, so different.

What we can share is the here and now, the memories, the fun, the smiles, maybe just maybe because it is easier, because it is less painful and that is fine. I think that is fine. Life is for living, not concentrating on the bad. Life is for living and concentrating on the good, on the joy of a baby, the touch of their skin, their first toothless smile, their clumsy attempts to crawl, their first gummy word and their hugs as they sleep on your shoulder. Life is about making the most of today, of this second and that’s why we concentrate on the nice stuff, the positives, the life.

And I think that’s a good thing.

X

Sent from my iPad

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First steps....

Hard week this week Tes – and perhaps not one of my most positive posts. Half term, holidays, time for you, Tes, to be here, lying in bed, chilling out, watching TV, drinking tea, eating breakfast at 1pm. We missed you, all of us. It’s hard Tes, really hard. Got me thinking about all the firsts we have had already, the first things without you.

1. The first hurdle after you had gone was saying goodnight. I had this routine, it changed as you got older, you’d say goodnight downstairs, I’d come up and we’d chat for a few minutes or longer maybe depending on what you were doing! You’d go to bed. I’d go downstairs and then later I’d go to bed and I’d come into your room, but always I went to Morgans room first (just a silly routine) – if you were awake I’d kiss your forehead and say goodnight, if you were asleep I’d watch you breathe and blow you a kiss. You were always a light sleeper so I didn’t like to wake you. Latterly you would sleep with either your mobile phone clenched in your fist or your notebook open on your lap – I always thought that was funny – sometimes you left your phone open in Facebook and I’d be very tempted to have a look but I didn’t (mostly!)

2. The mornings – every morning I’d get up, you’d be up before me because you had got into this routine of crazy hair straightening but lately you’d accepted your curls a little more. I’d always look in and you’d be sitting on your knees by the door with your pink straighteners and your box of very messy make up. Face-wipes would be scrunched on the floor and strewn across your room there would be odd socks. I’d go downstairs and make 3 cups of tea (Morgan doesn’ t like tea in the morning) – I’d bring you one up and put it on the radiator to keep warm and kiss you good morning. You’d be busy trying to look pretty because you didn’t think you were. I tried not say you looked just as pretty without any make up because I could hear my mum saying it to me and I didn’t believe her either. I actually thought you looked lovely with or without.

3. Dinner times – it has taken us some weeks to sit down at the table together. For some reason it was something I always instilled even when it was just the three of us for all those years – I liked to think there was one time in the day when we all sat down. Now your chair is empty and we have struggled to have this time together but we have. Tonight you would have laughed as Morgan was singing his new ‘song’ to us. We’d often laugh over dinner or play a game of cards; you’d roll your eyes at me as I always forgot the rules!

4. Birthdays – since you’ve been gone, we had Morgan’s birthday then Nannas, in a week or so it’ll be Fins, mine and Sams, and we had yours Tes. I cherish the cards you made me and wrote to me, never have I been so glad to have kept each one from the ‘pili pala’ in Miri Meithrin to the ones you had made with photos of you, me and Morgan. I still have your Kindle from us in my drawer for your birthday and I can’t work out what to do with it Tes. I look at the picture of your last birthday with 14 candles and really really find it hard to believe that would be your last one. I miss you.

5. Coming home – when I came home from work, I’d know you’d be sitting on the sofa with your laptop, phone, TV and revision. I imagine you a lot just sitting there waiting for me as I drive back from work – you’d always ask me how my day went and chat with me about yours. I can see your face, your glasses, your smile. Clearly. You’d tell me about school and more often than not you’d giggle about drama so much I didn’t know what you meant but it’d make me beam to see you so happy.

6. Washing, cooking, ironing – now only for three not four – it’s so so weird and maybe just too hard to talk about. How much pasta do you need for 3? No longer needing to think of four different meals (you were so fussy Tes and I have never been so glad that I just cooked you what you liked!). I moaned about ironing every Sunday, I hate ironing – but now there is so much less and I would do anything to have more of it. Silly things like that are hard to bare.

7. Post – letters/magazines coming through for you. Mostly to be fair they are books, the first parcel that arrived was a book and thereafter are book magazines and also recently quite oddly there was an eye lazer treatment brochure – so you were thinking of that huh? I always thought glasses suited you!

8. Saturday nights – my favourite night with you and Morgan – Claire and Morgs have pepperoni pizza to share and you and I have the veggi option, cheese and tomato pizza – now it is so weird as I have to cut half of mine and freeze it and then I don’t eat it. We always bought four scratch cards and every week would argue about how we would share the money if we won, we never did!

9. Friends – seeing your friends do what you should be doing, going to the cinema, eating out, studying for exams, stressing out, arguing, fretting, being in love. Words can’t express how much I miss that you won’t do those things but I really get so much comfort from seeing your friends having their lives, having fun, enjoying. Some of my best days are when your friends have taken the time from their busy lives to come and see me. You really had amazing people around you Tes and so you should.

10. You – being without you, from the first second to now, six weeks and a day on – that is the hardest part. When we have children, we accept that we are not with them all the time, once you went away with your dad for a week to Majorca. I remember being quite jealous when you said once that had been your best holiday! You were stung by a jellyfish and I fretted as I couldn’t be there. You told me about you and Morgan hiding in the hotel room under the bed when the cleaner came in! Back to you – so I did once spend a week without you but now it’s been six weeks and a day without you. A first and one that won’t end unfortunately. It feels such a long long time.

I have said all the way through that I believe there are only two choices, we get up or we don’t. I know that these ‘firsts’ will carry on for some time Tes, possibly forever – whenever they may appear, one thing to be grateful for, despite the hurt they’ll continue to remind me of you and our firsts together from the moment you were born to the very moment you went.

Forever in my heart my first born, love you x

Gone

Gone.

Like a falling drop
of innocent rain,
you once were here
but no longer remain.

Words fall easily
for some you say.
Making passing text
meaningless, in a way.

You already read
between the lines.
Assuming, believing
truth or lies.

Like a falling
drop of snow,
in days or weeks
you eventually go.

Seeping into streets
and homes, you belong.
And I become
a thought. A no one.